Skip to Main Content

Gladden Boathouse (RG 123)

This is a postcard of the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) boat house, formerly known as the Washington Gladden Boathouse. It is postmarked 1909. The front of the postcard shows the boathouse with a ramp leading down to the dock on Lake Massasoit. There is a canoe next to the dock. It looks like there might be someone in the canoe. The back is filled out and sent to a Mrs. Pryke in Hamilton Ontario. it seems to be written by a son to his mother on mother's day.

Washington Gladden Boathouse

On March 19, 1901, the new boathouse for Springfield College, then the International YMCA Training School, was built on Lake Massasoit at the bottom of Rally Hill behind the Administration Building and the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union. The boathouse was named the Washington Gladden Boathouse after the Rev. Washington Gladden, at the request of Mr. Frank Beebe of Holyoke who generously donated the boathouse as an admirable opportunity for training in aquatics. Prior to its construction, students had shown a great interest in building a boathouse to take advantage of the training in aquatics which the lake offered. The class of 1900 raised $150 towards this effort. The estimated value of the total cost without the boats was $2,500.

On June 18, 1902, the dedication of the boathouse took place during Commencement exercises. Plans for the boathouse were prepared by Mr. J. Claude Armstrong of the class of 1903, and Dr. F. N. Seerley, who was chosen as the leader carrying out their enterprise. The students working on the construction were given two weeks set aside for work. It was a tradition, even before this, for students to volunteer as laborers on construction projects, but it is felt that after the building of the boathouse that the College’s Work Day was started. Work Day is the early precursor for today’s Humanics in Action Day.

The boathouse was a two-story building and its dimensions were fifty-three by twenty-nine feet. A list of boating rules was developed by J. H. McCurdy so that everyone would be safe and have equal access to the boats.

The Boathouse served for somewhere around forty years as the College’s center for aquatics instruction. The exact date for its decommission is not known at this time. An extensive search of the records has been undertaken, but nothing definitive has been found. It is thought that the boathouse was dismantled or destroyed sometime between 1936 and 1940, with 1937 to 1938 being a most likely time frame. The search for the exact date is continuing.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents the Washington Gladden Boathouse. The collection consists of information gathered for a digital collection tilted Boathouse Photo Collection, created at some point after 2000, boathouse rules that were created by faculty member James Huff McCurdy, early pictures of the construction of the boathouse, and some pictures of the exterior of the building, some with the students using the facility. Of particular note are glass negatives of the construction of the boathouse.